How to Choose a Business-Friendly Site

Tags: Site Selection, Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing, Logistics

Lake Ray is President, First Coast Manufacturers Association; Member of the Florida House of Representatives, 904-296-9664

The U.S. manufacturing resurgence can largely be attributed to companies reshoring operations. With its low-cost, abundant energy resources, the United States has once again become a cost-effective siting option for energy-intensive manufacturers.

As the energy boom brings companies back to the United States, they must decide where to locate. A number of factors make a region business-friendly. Companies should evaluate the following factors when choosing a prospective site:

  • Taxes. All companies love a business-friendly tax environment. For example, businesses in Northeast Florida are exempt from state sales tax when purchasing manufacturing equipment, which drives down costs, and enables expansion.
  • Labor. The U.S. workforce is one of the most productive in the world, manufacturing products that are reliable and durable. But to create these products, an available, skilled workforce is essential for manufacturers—especially at a time when a noticeable skills gap in the industry is making headlines. When siting new facilities, manufacturing companies should examine statistics for the local labor force.
  • Location and Infrastructure. As the old saying goes, choosing a new site is all about "location, location, location." An area's existing infrastructure and logistical strengths are crucial to manufacturing growth.
  • To illustrate, Northeast Florida's connection with all four pillars of logistics—rail, air, maritime, and highway—contributes to continued manufacturing growth in the region. Three major railroads use Jacksonville as a hub/interchange; the region has three major interstates, I-95, I-10, and I-75; and JAXPORT serves as a portal for goods and products bound for the southeastern United States.

    Ports and rail hubs act as major economic engines for a region's manufacturing industry, because creating products is only one part of the process. Any area hoping to attract new business must offer those companies the means to transport manufactured goods.

  • Community and government. Regional leaders have to show that they value the local impact of manufacturing. City and community leaders in Northeast Florida work closely with local companies to provide an attractive manufacturing environment.
  • The First Coast Manufacturers Association, a professional association of manufacturers and logistics providers in Florida, showcases the importance of giving regional manufacturing an effective voice in local politics. It works to ensure that manufacturing concerns are heard on legislative issues, and helps local schools and industry stakeholders align workforce training with manufacturing jobs, foster networking and business relationships, and utilize the collective strength of member companies.

    And the government itself should work from within to help businesses. The Florida House of Representatives champions efforts to grow the state's manufacturing, trade, and logistics economic development activities. This type of support is attractive to companies when considering where to locate.

Come One, Come All

The trend of companies bringing operations back to the United States can only benefit Northeast Florida and other regions that provide a business-friendly environment. Such areas offer ample opportunities for manufacturers to grow and operate profitably.